Cover of Consuming Literature by Shuyu Kong
Consuming Literature
Best Sellers and the Commercialization of Literary Production in Contemporary China
Shuyu Kong


256 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9780804749398
Paperback ISBN: 9780804749404
Ebook ISBN: 9780804767378

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Excerpts and More

This book examines the changes taking place in literary writing and publishing in contemporary China under the influence of the emerging market economy. It focuses on the revival of literary best sellers in the Chinese book market and the establishment of a best-seller production machine.

The author examines how writers have become cultural entrepreneurs, how state publishing houses are now motivated by commercial incentives, and how “second-channel,” unofficial publishers and distributors both compete and cooperate with official publishing houses in a dual-track, socialist-capitalist economic system. Taken together, these changes demonstrate how economic development and culture interact in a postsocialist society, in contrast to the way they work in the mature capitalist economies of the West. That economic reforms have affected many aspects of Chinese society is well known, but this is the first comprehensive analysis of market influences in the literary field. This book thus offers a fresh perspective on the inner workings of contemporary Chinese society.

About the author

Shuyu Kong is Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature at the University of Alberta's Department of East Asian Studies.

"The book's strength lies in the richly detailed analyses based on comprehensive interviews and field research....Kong demonstrates a keen understanding of the intricacy and complexity which characterize the nascent Chinese publishing industry."

The China Journal

"There is no book in English that could serve as a more informative or reliable introduction to the literary scene today"

China Review International

"Readers will find much to contemplate in Consuming Literature. The book fulfills an important need to understand the changing nature of the Chinese literary publishing field. The first-hand information Kong has gleaned from interviews is invaluable."